What does Tim Johnson in To Kill a Mockingbird symbolize?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tim Johnson, the dog, could symbolize the prejudice and mob mentality of Maycomb. For example, because most of the people of Maycomb are guilty of hateful prejudice, when they get together, they act like a rabid dog.  They are out of control, take action or speak without logic, and strike without warning.

Tim Johnson also represents the town's prejudice in the sense that Atticus seems to be the only Maycomb resident who can "save" the town and his children from the disease of prejudice.  The sheriff calls upon Atticus to kill Tim Johnson because he doesn't feel qualified to do so.  Likewise, he warns Atticus when the mob is coming for Tom Robinson; so that Atticus can go protect Tom.  Most significantly, Atticus chooses to defend Tom Robinson because it needs to be done, and he is not one to shirk his duties. The same is true of his shooting Tim Johnson--it is his duty to protect his children, whether it be from prejudice or a mad dog.

zumba96 | Student

Tim Johnson represents the rabid crazy racism spread around town. Just like the dog, the people in Maycomb take action even though they do not look at facts. The sheriff cannot shoot the dog because he feels he cannot handle it and instead calls Atticus. This can also refer to Atticus standing up to the prejudices and stopping it. 

amandasarpong | Student

tim johnson could represent the 'madness' in maycomb and atticus the morale backbone of the novel was the one to shoot the dog and 'save' maycomb.

princessita-2-day | Student

Tim Johnson the rabid dog symbolizes racism. WHY? ask yourself this question why does Heck Tate beck down from shooting the dog? the answer is because he could not handle the pressure the influence that the dog has on him which is why he gave the gun to Atticus because he can handle because he is alredy facing problems with the peopleon racism because of Tom's case.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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